Reviews

Review: Luxman L-507Z Integrated Amplifier

Review: Luxman L-507Z Integrated Amplifier -The L-507Z features a variety of functions, such as the built-in, newly developed MM/MC compatible phono amplifier circuit that supports high-quality analog playback

There are still two years to go before Luxman celebrates its centenary. Respect! You have to do that first in the fast-paced consumer electronics market. The traditional Japanese house relies on long-term continuity, which may sometimes seem a bit old-school. For example, after clicking “Digital Player” on the German Luxman website, you don’t end up with network players, as we might expect “young, wild high-end players” – but with the five SACD/CD players of the house. Not bad, either.

And if you take a closer look at our current test candidate, the Luxman L-507Z integrated amplifier, it doesn’t seem to be a hundred years old. Still, the strapping boy, weighing 25 kilograms, could already come from the “golden eighties.” That’s what the things looked like that you wanted back then and couldn’t afford. Speaking of which: the Luxman L-507Z is priced at 9,490 euros. That probably still blows up most school and student budgets and formulates a high-end claim.

Luxman L-507Z – all around and inside

The L-507Z is the first member of the new Z-series, which will house all of Luxman’s transistorized integrated amplifiers and work according to the Class A/B circuit topology. Luxman probably sees the less energy-efficient Class A as no longer up-to-date, and I don’t think you should mourn too much for it; after all, the implementation counts, not the respective principle per se. In addition, the power consumption of the Luxman L-507Z is around 110 watts when idling, so the quiescent current cannot have been set that low, which may reassure some audiophile dogmatists. Incidentally, by the end of the year, an even larger integrated will join the series, and in 2024 a smaller one.

Speaking of 110 watts: That’s how much the Luxman L-507Z achieves per channel with 8-ohm loudspeakers; with 4-ohm loads, it is 210. These are provided by 2 x 3 bipolar transistors per side, which work in parallel push/pull -Configuration work. The circuit is unbalanced throughout and is based on further developing the so-called ODNF topology (Only Distortion Negative Feedback), which Luxman has been using since 1999. This further development now goes by the acronym LIFES, which stands for “Luxman Integrated Feedback Engine System,” and is intended, among other things, to increase distortion values have halved. Last, the reduction in the open loop gain and the “number of elements connected in parallel,” according to the Japanese, ensured an even more dynamic and natural sound.

A look under the hood of the L-507Z reveals a classic design: The power supply unit is decorated in the middle, which is quite properly dimensioned with a 560 VA transformer of the EI type and a total of 80000 µF filter capacities, but does not look “crazy oversized”. . To the left and right are the power amp sections mounted on the cooling fins, the preamp section and volume control at the back, and the controls at the front. The Japanese emphasize that there are some proprietary technologies in the new L-507Z, such as a concept called “Beeline” that ensures short signal paths or the deliberately “rounded” conductor tracks on the circuit boards, see image below. This should reduce the impedance values ​​and thus increase the sound output.

The innovations of the Luxman L-507Z also include the new LECUA1000 circuit, an 88-step volume control realized with a resistor network. Which, by the way – in contrast to the input selection, where you can hear the clicking of relay switching processes – is completely silent; there are no mechanical clicks from the amp or the speakers. It’s not always like that.

The processing quality and feel of the Luxman L-507Z are extremely good: the sockets on the back are super stable, the knobs on the front are completely free of play, the finish on the front is immaculate, and the gap dimensions are the same. I have previously owned two Luxman components that were similarly meticulously crafted. Apparently, the Japanese are obsessed with quality.

Luxman L-507Z – analogue equipment

I don’t want to introduce you to every button on the Luxman. Personally, that’s what the operating instructions are for, but I’ll give you a few hints about the equipment.

Classic as the Luxman L-507Z is on the road, there are no digital inputs, streaming, Bluetooth, or anything like that. This can be seen as outdated or as consistently analog – depending on what the system should look like in which the L-507Z sits like a spider in a web. In any case, the fact that, in addition to unbalanced and balanced line-level inputs, there is also a phono input (Cinch) that accepts MM and MC signals fits in with the consistently analog approach. The preamp and power amp sections can be separated, and dual speaker terminals make bi-wiring easier if you want to do that.

Two things stand out on the front. Okay, three if counting the gauges. Their technical and practical meaning remains hidden, but it looks good. It’s also part of it, like McIntosh’s “blue eyes.”

Also striking: there are two headphone outputs, one as a normal 6.35 mm jack, one in 4.4 mm format – the latter is not a symmetrical headphone amplifier, but a channel-separated ground connection that could pay off in terms of sound. Also located in the center of the front are bass, treble, and balance controls. It used to be pretty standard, but it’s rare to see these days, so it’s worth mentioning. The control range of the treble and bass controls is +/- 8 dB at the “corner frequencies” of 100 and 10000 Hertz. The “Line Straight” button takes tone and balance controls out of the signal path, and that’s how I’ve mostly heard it.

Luxman L-507Z: Listening Test & Comparisons

Components that meet the taste of many listeners are not always easy for the hi-fi reviewer to describe – on the contrary: “Specialists” are usually easier to understand in terms of lyrics precisely because of their clear character traits. “Generalists”, on the other hand, can, of course, be presented less pointedly; a deliberative “on the one hand / on the other hand” constantly gets in the way … Which of course, in no way speaks against the device.

I have listened to the SACD/CD player and DAC Luxman D-05 for many years precisely because it was an all-rounder in terms of sound – the Japanese DA-06 flagship DAC replaced it at the time because it was the same at a higher level. And if I remember correctly, the Luxman combo C-700u/M-700u (about 16,000 euros), which we once tested, also played with generalist charm instead of being eccentric.

So now the Luxman L-507Z is in the rack, and it is one of those devices you switch on and forget after a short time because somehow everything is right with the music presentation in front of you. It can rightly be called an all-rounder, yet I’m surprised because its sound doesn’t match my idea of ​​the “Luxman amplifier sound.” This is mainly due to the tonal.

Tonal balance

Well, maybe I have the wrong idea in my head, but: It is quite clear that the L-507Z, for example, is less warm than the combination mentioned above, which, thanks to the sonorous upper bass/fundamental tone, and slightly restrained presence, is milder and seemed more powerful – while Luxman’s new integrated amplifier comes across righteously neutral.

At least in the middle and high-frequency range, this is pretty much a lesson. The upper mids are not “snuggled away” but pulled straight through, so they go up to the highest treble. At most, there are minor deviations from normal zero in the bass – there is more push and power in the mid and upper bass for a good mood, while there is a little lack of emphasis in the absolute bass. However, since this often does not play a significant role in music, the lows seem somewhat stronger “summarily” with an emphasis on something.

However, this character trait does not overlap in the fundamental tone or in the mids: The bass run at the beginning of “Almost Like the Blues” by Leonard Cohen (Album: Popular Problems) is a bit juicier than “strict studio teaching” specifies, Cohen’s deep However, the organ is not pumped up any further, the whole thing seems, in short, simply neutral. And the same goes for women’s voices, which are presented in an almost unusually open way. Artificial harshness and peaks shine through their absence, no question. Still, if the microphone was very close to the lips, you get all plosive sounds 1:1, and no tongue flapping and breathing is mitigated in the name of alleged long-term suitability. I think that’s a virtue – very nice with Fiona Apple, for example, but album Tidal – but not everyone wants to be informed in such a candid way.

Interim conclusion: The Luxman L-507Z plays fairly linearly in the mid and high-frequency bands and has a slightly more powerful bass, although the absolute bass is more subtle.

Dynamics/resolution

The all-rounder is not the same as an all-rounder: the Luxman L-507X sounds different than a McIntosh MA7200 AC (a bit cheaper at the time of testing, now more expensive than the Luxman, offers a DAC), which has even more bass, even at the bottom, but in presence – and treble range comes across as milder.

This goes well with dynamic behavior and impulse reproduction. The Luxman is comparatively “flirtier”; transients (piano hits, string breaks, percussion) come across more directly. While the McIntosh focuses a little more on the physical with acoustic guitars, the L-507X is more balanced in that it treats attack/sustain equally, like me, among other things; the album Black Pudding by Duke Garwood & Mark Lanegan makes it clear again. The Japanese play brightly and finely dynamically, more lively than the Ami – whose hour comes when coarse dynamics with plenty of (deep) bass are required because it has more slam to offer than the Luxman, which is not a child of sadness when it comes to rough load changes, but not quite as rocks as the Mac.

The transient speed and dynamics of the L-507Z remind me more of the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 600 (at the time, around 6,500 euros, no phono, no KH amp), which, however, has a slimmer tuning. The Luxman has the same impulsiveness and resolution but plays more sonorous because the bass is more powerful, although not as powerful as the McIntosh.

Speaking of the resolution: It’s great, also given the high price of the L-507Z across the frequency band. Whether it’s “The Stuff” on Forniquette’s album of the same name (I discovered it thanks to the entertaining Florida Man series ), the double bass creaks wonderfully with a gnarly contour at the start or “Gold to Me” by Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals on the fretboard of the E -the guitar is zoomed in, quiet audience noises can be heard clearly in the background or the overtones of struck bells shimmer – that is a very informative presentation that the Luxman offers and at the same time part of the recipe for how it draws the listener into the music.

Space

So: Appropriate coarse dynamics, but the great fine dynamics and the high level of detail seem to me to be more characteristic of the sound of the Luxman. And what about spatially?

Well, I don’t have to say so much about the stage representation of the L-507Z because it is inconspicuous in a positive sense: The amp is a step ahead of the stereo base, for my taste, it could be a bit broader, especially with orchestral works, but that’s still a long way from “compact.” The depth gradation is decent; it feels like a meter or two behind the speaker level if the recording allows it. The imaging precision is also convincing; voices and instruments are clearly outlined – but not immediately with “mathematical accuracy,” but rather relaxed and natural. So you can expect in this upscale class. Hook it.

Well regulated

The bass and treble controls are useful when a recording is too sparse or dull and requires appropriate intervention. Admittedly, nothing comes for free: You can already hear that the resolution increases when you press “Line Straight” and thus bypass the tone controls. But that’s useless if you want to make a messed-up eighties production something tolerable – as is usually the case here, too, it’s about the smallest compromise.

And when listening quietly, for example, a line straight off, good-old-loudness on! As an audiophile, you almost don’t realize how practical it is. I’ll tinker with something along those lines in Roon’s DSP area because my Pass purist amplification frowns on something like that. “Of course.”

Theme phono

The Luxman L-507X offers an unbalanced phono input, switchable between MM and MC, and the terminating impedances are 47000 and 100 ohms. There could have been more choices for moving coils, but it works pretty well with my Transrotor Figaro.

First impression: barely perceptible hissing and humming, even if you open it up properly. Already good. Second impression: the sound is very similar to the high-level inputs, but the phono stage plays slightly milder from the upper mids upwards – and more with an integrative-smooth style than a fanatic about resolution.

That’s always the case with Phono, you say? Well, on the one hand, I dare to doubt that, and on the other hand, you can “calculate” it: If I clamp my BMC audio phono stage between the SME turntable and Luxman, there’s resolution en masse. The slight downside to this is that this thoroughbred MC equalizer alone costs a little under half what the Luxman is asking for, plus an extra run of cable will need to be funded…a rather academic combination and not a fair comparison.

In a more realistic setup, the turntable that one intends to connect to the L-507Z will probably not exceed the 3,000 euro threshold, and in that scenario, I would think twice about whether an external phono pre would help. I doubt it because the one built into the Luxman is good for an amp in this league.

Conclusion

Suppose you are looking for an integrated amplifier with digital playback options. In that case, you have come to the wrong place with the Luxman L-507Z – but it is well equipped for most other audio needs: It offers balanced and unbalanced inputs, a phono input and two headphone outputs, can be separated, in mono switch, comes with bass, treble, balance controls, subsonic, loudness … in short: with pretty much everything you could wish for.

In terms of sound, he is the all-rounder and places more value on a “harmonic, holistic sound” than on pointedly presented character traits. I was a little surprised that he represented a fairly pure theory tonally. Apart from a little more power in the bass, the L-507Z does not allow itself any relevant deviation from the ideal line; it is also fully there in the presence range up to the super treble. It sounds more open and fresher than one might be used to from Luxman – or, to put it another way: (even) more neutral.

The Luxman L-507Z is a well-rounded package with good features and all-around sonic capabilities. Since it is also perfectly finished and seems built to last, it should be on your “listening list” if you’re in this league looking for an amplifier solution.

The Luxman L-507Z…

  • Plays fairly neutral/linear from the mids to the highest treble, with a little emphasis in the mid and upper bass, while some emphasis is lacking in the low bass.
  • Comes with a contoured and structured bass. It’s not bone dry, but it’s well drawn.
  • Has a very good resolution about the price range, especially in the mids and highs. Through the detailed presentation of the musical happenings, he pulls the listener into the music; one likes to listen to him consciously because there is much to discover.
  • Plays finely dynamically flirtatious and open, transients are presented unrounded and directly, but at the same time the balance of attack and sustain is preserved. A real strength.
  • Seems stable in terms of gross dynamics, but many competitors reach out even more courageously, at least with electronica or large orchestras.
  • Offers a normal-sized stage design with good, class-appropriate depth, graduation, and image quality. It’s not exceptionally wide, but it’s not compact either. The stage’s starting point is usually in front of or on top of the stereo base.
  • Offers lavish equipment – but no digital interfaces – and first-class workmanship.

Facts:

  • Model: Luxman L-507Z
  • Concept: integrated amplifier
  • Price: 9,490 euros
  • Dimensions & Weight: 440 x 178 x 454 mm (WxHxD), 25.4 kg
  • Silver
  • Inputs: 6 x high level (4x cinch, 2x XLR), 1 x phono (cinch, MM/MC switchable), 1 x main-in (cinch), trigger and control sockets
  • Outputs: 1 x pre-out (cinch), 2 x stereo speaker terminals, 2 x headphone outputs (6.35 mm and 4.4 mm jack), trigger and control sockets
  • Output power: 2 x 110 watts into 8 ohms, 2 x 210 watts into 4 ohms
  • Power consumption: 110 watts idle
  • Miscellaneous: bass, treble, and balance controls; Mono, subsonic, loudness, and line direct function; preamp and power amp separable; XLR inputs invertible; system remote control
  • Guarantee: 3 years